Media Release: Unst hydrogen venture goes from strength to strength

THE Pure Energy Centre (PEC) in Unst, Shetland is growing globally, helping to put the Shetland Islands on the map for innovative renewable energy and hydrogen developments.

The PEC grew from the Pure Energy Project set up by the Unst Partnership and has seen the development of what is believed to be the first community-owned off-grid renewable hydrogen system in the world.

The company uses a unique facility that generates hydrogen from tap water and renewable resources which are used to supply an industrial estate with electricity and heat on the island of Unst (the most northerly island in the UK), Shetland Isles.

When there is wind, it is converted into electrical power using wind turbines used to power the offices with heat and electricity. The excess renewable energy is used to produce hydrogen and stored in tanks for later use. If there is no wind to supply electricity and heat to the buildings, the hydrogen is used to produce the power and is also used for cooking and fuelling a fuel cell vehicle.

The PEC team is now moving from being a specialised company in hydrogen technologies to one that offers a broad range of products and services including renewable energy solutions, consultancy, training, fuel cell solutions and environmental assessments.

The hydrogen system proposed by the PEC can be connected to any renewable resource including wind, wave, tidal, hydro, solar and even to the grid to be used in conjunction with green tariff, providing a key market entry for the company.

The company’s managing director, Daniel Aklil, is currently travelling the world making presentations about their work developing small scale hydrogen energy schemes for remote communities. He will also speak to the United Nations Hydrogen Group in Croatia and will chair the Mexican Hydrogen Association annual conference in Mexico, as well as presenting a talk at the Portugal and Spanish Built Environment Conference dealing with carbon neutral buildings.

Ten full-time staff are now employed at the centre in Unst having recently taken on two new engineers, Vincenzo Ortisi from Italy and Boris Collard from France.

Business development manager Elizabeth Johnson is pleased with the success of the company and is proud that they are currently UK leaders in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. She said: “We currently have contracts which allow us to generate additional employment in Shetland. In the last couple of years we have focused our efforts on providing our products and services to a global audience.”

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has invested into the Pure Energy Centre. This investment has resulted in significant economic benefits.

Ann Black, area manager for HIE in Shetland, said: “The PEC is in an ideal position to develop and commercialise hydrogen-based projects and to help the Shetland Isles become a centre of excellence for hydrogen technology in the UK.”

“They have attracted six young Shetland engineering graduates back to the island and there has been other inward migration, significant media interest and many visitors to the Shetland Isles over the last two years. We are therefore delighted to see the project growing globally and equally that there will be further benefits for the Shetland community as a whole.”

An one-day workshop on hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in the community honouring the work and achievements of the late Sandy Macaulay, founder of the PURE project, was held at Cowan House, Inverness on Wednesday 8 October. The meeting comprised a number of short talks on different aspects of hydrogen and fuel cell delivery in the community.

It was supported by Scottish Hydrogen Fuel Cell Association (SHFA) and HIE.

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Contact: Mairi Gillies
Phone: 01463 244235